Only three men have won The Genesis Invitational three times; Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, and Bubba Watson. Believe it or not, if you plan to bet this weekend, I’m here to tell you to be like Bubba!
Palmer did not win his three Los Angeles Opens at Riviera Country Club. Although “Riv” has hosted fifty-nine editions, Ben Hogan only won two of them. His third victory at Riviera came in the 1948 US Open. So that leaves Bubba as the most modern player to have conquered Riviera multiple times. The two-time Masters winner and now LIV Golf competitor is a remarkable ball striker who thrives on difficult courses that require superior shot making skills.
Let’s first take a look at the odds for the 2023 Genesis Invitational, then discuss the tournament and course itself, and finally make our best bets and predictions.
All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Genesis Invitational 2023: Betting odds
|Si Woo Kim||+10000|
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The Genesis Invitational 2023: Tournament & course info, past results and trends
Before the Bubba breakdown, let’s first look a little deeper at Riviera Country Club, the historic host of The Genesis Invitational. The original George Thomas design is a Par 71 layout that covers 7,322 yards. Set in a valley amongst the Santa Monica mountains, this impeccable Los Angeles golf landscape is an amazing test of golf skill. The course is covered in 58 bunkers and tree-lined fairways. Those fairways meander in both directions and the green complexes are equally as complicated.
The course sits about two miles from the Pacific Ocean, so this coastal climate can cause the players to question their carry distances. Although early forecasts don’t call for much wind, it always seems to be a little breezy this close to the water. Riviera tests all aspects of your game and the statistics behind Bubba’s three wins (2014, 2016, 2018) succinctly display such.
In those years, Watson gained on average four strokes against the field off the tee. Another five strokes on approach, two around the green and four more putting. This proves you need to be very well rounded to win at Riviera. If we take each skill separately, we can start to build a blueprint for 2023 betting success.
The best drivers in the field are: Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, and Xander Schauffele. These men can attack this course from the tee. Just like Bubba they can shape the ball both ways and find the fairway. Riviera is all about angles. Twelve of the driving holes have doglegs.
Once you find yourself on approach, 70% of the time you will be using a mid-iron coming in from 150-200 yards. Of the favorites in this field, the best approach artists are: Will Zalatoris, Tom Kim, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, and Jason Day. With an average green size of 7,500 square feet these are not big targets. Being able to curve the ball like Bubba will actually make the landing areas larger.
Watson saving two shots around the green was important. PGA TOUR players miss these greens 8% more than the tour average. Getting up and down will build momentum and keep that score going low. At the top of the odds board, the players with the most short game skill are: Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and Max Homa.
Bubba was a good putter on difficult greens and Poa grass. Three wins here and two at Augusta National prove it. Completing the skill set list, we see these favorites can roll the rock: Jon Rahm, Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, and Justin Rose. Putting inside ten feet will be a factor and each of these guys can make their fair share.
The Bubba blueprint shows us the way. As a PGA Professional, it makes sense to me. Riviera tests all aspects of your game. A couple names we just mentioned pop up multiple times. Rahm and Rory are a good example — yet their odds aren’t necessarily advantageous to betting them outright. As I continued to research the field of 130 competitors looking for complete players, I found the following three best bets.
Best Bet to Win: Xander Schauffele
Schauffele is extremely well-rounded. He ranks in the Top 30 in each of these major strokes gained categories. What I love most about his game is the consistency. In his last 14 starts, he has two wins and twelve Top 15 finishes. He consistently puts himself in contention. The southern California native has a great history at Riviera and can win against a great field. BetMGM has him listed at +1600. X marks the spot this weekend.
Best Bet to Place Top 20: Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott
Two men who have incredible records at Riviera are Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott. They have ten combined Top 10 finishes. Scott has two wins and Matsuyama two Top 5’s. Their combined scoring average is under 70 and each is in great form. FanDuel is offering Scott +105 and Matsuyama -110 to finish in the Top 20. Take these two veterans to play well.
Best Bet to Make the Cut: Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has returned to PGA TOUR play. It has been 844 days since his last non-major start and Woods looks ready. I sat in his Tuesday press conference and heard him say he can contend. In twelve professional starts at the Genesis he has nine Top 20 finishes. He only needs to make the weekend and FanDuel is offering his odds to make the cut at +156. Woods did not return for fun, he’ll play all four days.
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